All funding cut for Aquarius

Discussion in 'Marine Science and Physiology' started by Wookie, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. Wookie

    Wookie ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

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    The Aquarius offshore laboratory received it's death blow this week when funding levels were set at about 1.2 million dollars, which is just about enough to finish the final mission for NASA.

    Aquarius was originally conceived and funded by NOAA's National Undersea Research Program (NURP) in the mid 1980s. The underwater laboratory was built by Victoria Machine Works in 1986-87. Initial deployment was in the U.S. Virgin Islands where 13 missions were conducted before Hurricane Hugo struck in 1989, and devastated St. Croix. Aquarius was retrieved from the seafloor in 1990 and was moved to North Carolina where it was refurbished under the direction of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW). In 1993, the laboratory was redeployed in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and supported 22 missions during the next three years. In 1996, Aquarius was recovered, and refurbished again. Many improvements were made to the system including construction of a semi-autonomous life support buoy that replaced a 17 by 34-meter life support barge. Aquarius was redeployed in 1997 and operations resumed in 1998.

    The support buoy is in a shipyard in Miami at this time undergoing a complex overhaul and drydocking, and was expected to be re-deployed in the next month with all new solar panels and systems. For the past few years, Aquarius has been primarily funded by NASA to support weightless living by astronauts with a few NOAA missions thrown in. NASA paid for a mission last year which was cancelled for weather. Now, the buoy must be retrieved from the boat yard and set in place, and the final mission must be run. The old support vessel which was designed to retrieve the Aquarius is long gone, so it isn't clear how NOAA will get the Aquarius brought up from the bottom. It's sad to be losing a piece of working history like this. Pink slips have been and will be issued to the crew.
     
  2. fisheater

    fisheater Divemaster Candidate

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    :-(


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  3. hogpark7430

    hogpark7430 Surface Interval Member

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    Bummer maybe they can sell it to scubaboard. ;)
     
  4. jm

    jm Scuba Instructor

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    Perhaps that is not too bad an idea. Not Scubaboard exactly but the greater dive community at large. It is said that hunters and anglers spend a great deal of money to support wildlife so that they can continue to enjoy their sports.The question is without aquatic research of this type will we continue to enjoy what we have? We do have a tremendous stake in not only preservation of the underwater habitat but also the benefits this facility brings to others sciences.

    If this facility is useful to science (I must qualify this as I am a layman, meaning dumb as a bag of hammers science wise) perhaps Scubaboard could look at setting up a Paypal donaton system in conjunction with the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Set it up as a lottery with the prize being a couple of days for two on board the Aquarius, near the end of a mission. Of course you would have to help the researchers assuming that you meet their criteria but it would be a really unique experience. Imagine the opportunity for learning when housed with some of the researchers! Not to mention the truly unique nature of the experience. You could pair it up with some secondary prizes such as diving in the area with perhaps a quick peek into the facilities (at least a couple of minutes in the "wet porch"). I'm not advocating wrecking the useful science being done by turning it into a tourist attraction but instead helping them to meet their costs as well as creating an awareness of this facility. If it wasn't too expensive I'd definitely kick in some money for a chance like that!! Personally, aerospace and diving are two of my strong interests and the chance (even a small chance) of meeting some of the leading experts in these fields would be right off the scale of cool.

    Please chime in and see what everyone else thinks about this. By the way, I live in Canada and have no connection with any of these institutions.

    Here is the link: Home | NOAA’s Aquarius Reef Base
     
  5. koozemani

    koozemani Surface Interval Member

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    I recently saw it featured on some tv show. JM, a little working vacation for interested people might well be the answer. I know I'd would be interested.
     
  6. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many.

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    Sad to see yet another effort at exploration and new understanding fall to the axe of a budget overburdened with social services. We used to dream . . .
     
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  7. gkndivebum

    gkndivebum NAUI Instructor

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    :depressed:

    A friend and local dive buddy (the DSO at UHH) spent a week in saturation there last summer in support of a mission. It was quite amusing to get a tour of the facility via Skype.
     
  8. maiker

    maiker Angel Fish

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    Please chime in and see what everyone else thinks about this.
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Reck Diver

    Reck Diver Regular of the Pub

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    Frankly after NOAA's Party Boat fiasco, they should be glad they get a dime of my tax dollars
     
  10. Thalassamania

    Thalassamania Diving Polymath ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Admirable sentiments, but there are two problems:

    1. No taxpayer money was spent on the "Party boat."
    2. NOAA is an amalgam of organizations that were, in 1970, glued together by Richard Nixon and stuffed into DOC without a whole lot of thought. Opposing the Aquarius because of something the Fish Cops did is, to say the least, nonsensical.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012
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  11. Reck Diver

    Reck Diver Regular of the Pub

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    So color me stupid, but who exactly funds NOAA? I was under the assumption it came out of the federal budget
     
  12. Wookie

    Wookie ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

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    In the case of the "Party Boat", it was funded from fines received from illegal fishing. Those fines cannot go into the federal budget, so LE is allowed to use the proceeds to support LE activities. Most LE organizations are using that type of money to buy fuel for their LE boats, etc.
     
  13. Captain12Pk

    Captain12Pk Divemaster

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    OK. So where does NOAA's annual budget originate?
     
  14. Thalassamania

    Thalassamania Diving Polymath ScubaBoard Supporter

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  15. Captain12Pk

    Captain12Pk Divemaster

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    So NOAA is in fact funded via the Federal Gov't.

    Thank you.
     
  16. Thalassamania

    Thalassamania Diving Polymath ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Most of NOAA is, some of it isn't. I believe that there are some user fees in there too.
     
  17. Reck Diver

    Reck Diver Regular of the Pub

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    There are user fees throughout the federal government, I pay one every time I enter Everglades National Park for instance. However please don't discount that without the "we the people" paying taxes, the people running around on the NOAA party boat would have to find honest employment.
     
  18. lpurcell

    lpurcell Divemaster

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    Too bad funding was cut. I did 2 Hydrolab (predecessor to Aquarius) missions at St. Croix in the mid '80s. Tremendous opportunity to get alot of reef research done in short time. Unfortunately, it appears our government can no longer afford such things. Just like each of us, when money is tight you have to prioritize........
     
  19. timg

    timg Divemaster

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    Quick update:
    A new nonprofit has been formed, Aquarius Foundation. I will post the new web site soon.
    We are working on a BOD and there are about 16 on the Advisory Board as of this date.
    There are folks right now in DC attending Capital Hill Ocean Week functions talking about Aquarius.
    Our next meeting is June 12th, hope to have more info to share at that point.

    As always, I welcome your feedback on this forum or a PM.

    Thanks.

    Aquarius Foundation's first Board Meeting
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4008860941254.174550.1273119203&type=3&l=99e4b72e68
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2012
  20. timg

    timg Divemaster

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    July 11 Update:

    Training has started or the July mission. Aquanauts are:
    Sylvia Earle
    Mark Patterson
    DJ Roller
    Dale Stokes

    Saturation begins July 14, they come out on July 21.

    Right now there are some live feeds during training, but the whole mission goes live on the 14th.

    We have a YouTube Aquarius Reef Base - YouTube and UStream.TV link Aquarius Reef Base, Ustream.TV: Aquarius is an underwater laboratory and home to scientists for missions up to 10 days long, but to call Aquarius a home is...

    Foundation is proceeding, planning, making connections and we have a very optimistic outlook.

    Stay tuned.

    I am diving there tomorrow with Miami Herald reporter Cammy Clark, so watch for her story this weekend.

    Once the mission begins, I will post updates from the main site and the FB sites.
    ARB: https://www.facebook.com/AquariusReefBase
    Foundation: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aquarius-Foundation/379290845466951


     

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